Making greening your restaurant easy, rewarding, and free.

Certified Green Commercial Kitchen logoThere are many ways for restaurants to go green, and nearly as many for them to be certified as a green restaurant. Which way to go? What’s the most useful? Which is valid? Between the numerous regional and national options out there, it can be overwhelming.

What if there was a program that made it simple, was free, modeled after and qualifying you for LEED credits, rewarded you for progress made along the way, and had all the equipment and supplies necessary to qualify available to you through them? Such a program exists, the Certified Green Commercial Kitchen program, through the national restaurant supply company Food Service Warehouse.

Now you may say, is this just a ploy for you to buy their products? Hardly. There’s no requirement that you buy through them to get certified. Though their prices do seem good. And in fact, they have a contest running now, open to any commercial kitchen, where you could win an entire green kitchen, from the oven to the ice machine, with $1000 worth of bio based disposables in there for good measure. Entry details can be found here.

Now what of the program itself? It’s broken down into 5 areas, of which you must accrue a certain amount of points of the total available, similar to how LEED works, in order to qualify in that area. When you do, you get rewarded.

And they’re not paltry rewards, either.

For instance, if you meet the Energy Conservation portion requirements, you get a 1 year extended warranty on all equipment. Qualify for the  Waste Reduction segment, and you get 10% off eco friendly disposables, permanently. Other segments of the program include Green Cleaning, Water Conservation, and most importantly, Green Education. For each of these categories, the rewards last 6 months individually, and if all are completed, permanently. In both cases, a great incentive to go green, beyond the financial, ecological, and customer/worker benefits of having a cleaner, greener restaurant.

One sentence tells me that this program is the real deal when they say, “In cases where the kitchen simply cannot reach the number of points required due to the equipment or supplies used, a custom program may be developed at no cost.” This says to me that this is a program meant to flex with the realities of each business, and goes beyond merely checking off a list of products bought. The more accessible a program is, the more restaurants will adopt it, and the more benefits will be accrued by us all, due to decreased energy consumption, toxic cleaners, raw resource consuming paper products, and a staff that is knowledgeable and brings these practices into other areas of their lives.

Looking at FSW as a business, it does a great job of laying out the benefits of this program in a way that will appeal to both your economic and altruistic sides. Other businesses, take note.

They know they’ve got the green committed already interested in going green, so they start with the money. $10,000, to be precise, the amount an average kitchen will save annually by going green, they claim. Then they go to the sore spot: keeping butts in the chairs, when  they say, “According to a 2008 National Restaurant Association survey, almost 62% of diners say they would prefer to eat at an environmentally friendly restaurant.” They touch on both values and emotions when they say, “Commercial kitchens pollute the air, water and soil simply by operating. Go green to reduce your business’s impact on the environment and leave behind a legacy of conservation for future generations.

So should you go with their Certified Green Commercial Kitchen Program? Take a look and see for yourself. Other programs include the Green Restaurant Association, which offers in person consulting and a consumer searchable database of certified restaurants. And check your local area for regional programs, many of which are quite comprehensive, and most importantly, recognized and seen as legitimate by customers. However, whatever you do, I’d say enter FSW’s Green Commercial Kitchen Giveaway. Looks like an awesome setup!

Readers: What are some restaurant greening resources you use? Which certification programs have you looked in to? Any particular products you’ve found particularly effective? Where do you get your green restaurant supplies?

Further reading on green restaurants:

How to Green a Restaurant, pt. 1: Ike’s Quarter Ecopreneurist

Greening How You do Takeout: What Works Ecopreneurist

Is Green Accreditation for You? Ecopreneurist

About the Author

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums. For more on GreenSmith Consulting, see He also writes for Triple Pundit
  • Uncle B

    Cities and Towns must provide Composting and verminator service to the food industries and sell the compost and worm castings to the gardening public of farmers as fertilizer, to off-set costs of such a service, if not make a reasonable profit! Some enterprising soul may read this, look up the price of organic fertilizers, calculate the volume available in his area, take the plan to the bank for financing and end up employing people in the useful recycling of food services wastes into organic fertilizers and make a fair buck doing it – Why not! the money is as green as the product provided!

  • Now this is an idea that I’d LOVE to see implemented in more school lunch programs. The longer my kids are in school, the more atrocious waste and unhealthy habits they pick up there.

  • These are some great ideas you list here, thanks for sharing. I think that at the worst restaurateurs should make sure that they have energy efficient appliances, or make sure that all their appliances are in correct working order and all seals and doors are properly secured as to not let excess air escape. Doing this will also help with your energy bills.

  • I totally agree with Barbara’s comment. Thanks for sharing such an topical article with all of us. I’ve bookmarked your blog will come back for a re-read again. Keep up the very good work.

  • Serious green restaurants install the latest grease capture technology—Grease Recovery Devices (GRDs)—and thereby increase both sustainability and profitability. GRDs are small clever tanks—they often fit under counters—that capture any grease from the wash water draining from sinks and dishwashers. A GRD allows a restaurants to cancel its $50-$250/month grease trap cleaning services; they quickly pay for themselves. The captured grease can be sold (more $$$) along with used fry grease to be made into biodiesel. GRDs also prevent costly kitchen flooding caused by grease blockages between the kitchen drain and the grease trap under or behind the restaurant. FOG (fat, oil & grease) is the leading cause nationally of sewer overflows that foul rivers and close beaches. GRDs are the best solution and are actively promoted by progressive cities (like LA) and states (like CT). Tips: 1. For maximum ease and reliability, select a GRD with no moving parts or electronics and simple operating instructions. 2. Only use GRDs with ASME 112.14.4 certification. 3. Don’t confuse GRDs—small units that automatically dump their grease at least daily—with grease interceptors and traps, which are larger, often underground and cleaned monthly by a burly guy with a suction hose and a smelly tank truck. GRDs are also called Automatic Grease Recovery Units or by acronyms like AGR, GRU, etc. Terminology varies greatly and gets misused, so just make sure you get a small, self-purging device certified per above.

  • You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to
    be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!